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Monday, February 14, 2011

The Olive Branch: February 14, 2011

Accent on Worship

Anyone who knows me well knows that I don’t do well with Commandments. I don’t like being told what to do – a fact that my husband knows all too well. So I’ve been really challenged by the Biblical Lectionary texts this season. I’ve lost track of the number of times recently that we’ve heard about commandments, or statutes, or ordinances or laws. Now Jesus takes the Commandments much further, into territory that it seems impossible for us to go – to love our enemies and pray for our persecutors, to turn the other cheek, not only to avoid adultery, but even to avoid looking lustfully at another person, and on and on.

At face value, all this seems so one-sided. This week we observe a holiday that celebrates relationships. As I’ve heard so many commandments, I’ve felt a little put off by the image of God handing down rules and regulations for us to obey. Where’s the “relating” in that? Where’s the give and take in that? Where’s the conversation and negotiation in that?

Interestingly enough, the Latin word for “command” is the same as the word for “commend”. That word is commendare, which means “to give over, to entrust, to commit to another’s care.” This is so much more helpful in my understanding of a loving God – that we are entrusted with these laws and statutes; they are given to our care. And the amazing thing is that we are free to choose or reject them. If we follow them, God says that we choose life (Deuteronomy 30:19)… life, strong community, and supportive relationships. I envision the loving God, the loving parent, in an anxious and breath-holding moment, to see what choice we make, and to rejoice when we make the choices that fulfill God’s hopes and dreams for us.

We, in turn at Compline pray, “Into your hands O God, I commend my Spirit.” We give over to a powerful and loving God this most precious part of ourselves – our spirits, that which gives us life, trusting that God also chooses life for us. God entrusts us with words of life, and the Word of Life in Jesus Christ. Now that’s a “Commendment” that I can truly celebrate.

- Lora Dundek

Sunday Readings

February 20, 2011 – Seventh Sunday after Epiphany
Leviticus 19:1-2, 9-18 + Psalm 119:33-40
I Corinthians 3:10-11, 16-23 + Matthew 5:38-48

February 27, 2011 – Eighth Sunday after Epiphany
Isaiah 49:8-16a + Psalm 131
I Corinthians 4:1-5+ Matthew 6:24-34

Sunday’s Adult Education: 9:30 a.m. in the Chapel Lounge
A schedule of upcoming Adult Forum offerings is available in the Chapel Lounge.

Sunday, February 20: “Spiritual Formation: Solvitur ambulando,” part 3 of a 3-part series, led by Pr. Crippen.

Two Weeks Left for “Bridging the Gap”

Our appeal to wrap up the funding of our recent building improvements is going very well! Mount Olive folks are proving once again they are outstanding in generosity and commitment. If the trend of the past four weeks continues, it appears we will succeed in meeting the goal of this appeal.

The goal of this “Bridging the Gap” appeal is to pay off the construction loan for the remodeling of the parish house and Undercroft kitchen as soon as possible in order to be free of debt. The appeal was sparked by a $25,000 matching fund created by the Mount Olive Vestry and Foundation from the recent bequest by the estate of our late brother in Christ, Earl Juhl.

The gifts are being recorded as they come in, and a full report will be in the Olive Branch in two weeks. There is still time for you to participate. Gifts or pledges to this appeal can be made until February 27, 2011.

Brochures with a commitment form are available at church on the shelf outside the office.

Hold the Date!

A special event is planned for Sunday, March 20, and you're invited to participate.

There is a fascinating exhibit at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, entitled The Mourners: Tomb Sculptures from the Court of Burgundy. These small sculptures have adorned a French royal tomb since the late 14th century. They depict mourners of all walks of life expressing their grief in various ways. This is a fitting exercise for Lent, as we are continually reminded that we are dust, and to dust we will return.

We will depart from Mount Olive after the late worship service, stop for lunch and then proceed to the MIA. There we will see the Mourners exhibit, and then be joined by a docent for a private tour of art that express spirituality in some form. Cost of lunch is on your own, and admission to the MIA is free. If you are interested, please RSVP to the church office (612.827.5919 or or contact Lora Dundek (

For more information on the exhibit, check out the MIA's website at Please join us!

Art Exhibit in the Chapel Lounge: Serigraphs of John August Swanson

John August Swanson paints in oil, watercolor, acrylic and mixed media, and is an independent printmaker of limited edition serigraphs, lithographs and etchings. He addresses himself to human values, cultural roots, and his quest for self-discovery through visual images. John August Swanson’s work is on display for the month of February, 2011.

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